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‘Deliveroo-style’ pharmacy smashes crowdfunding target in one day

Phlo can deliver prescriptions within two hours in London

Online pharmacy Phlo hit its crowdfunding target of £1.65 million within a day of launching its campaign, its CEO and founder Nadeem Sarwar has told C+D.

The on-demand pharmacy, which launched its “Deliveroo-style” service in London between October and November last year, is planning to expand in other major UK cities, Mr Sarwar told C+D yesterday (October 15).

On Monday (October 12), Phlo launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £1.65m to fund its expansion plans. As of today (October 16), it has raised £1.76m.

Phlo is on track to launch is on-demand service in Birmingham by the end of the year or early in 2021, Mr Sarwar said. The launch of another site in Manchester will follow, but the company hopes to roll out its service across the UK based on patient demand.

On-demand service

Phlo is not “a traditional distance-selling pharmacy”, Mr Sarwar said. The company also has a mail-order business through which it serves around 4,000 patients "from Orkney to Jersey", he said.

In London, Phlo can deliver medicines on-demand to patients on the same day, in as little as two hours, Mr Sarwar said. “We deliver from 8am to 10pm but soon it will be 24 hours a day,” he added.

“We created a system that is as easy as Deliveroo to use”, as part of which patients can track the progress of their order “all the way through the door”, Mr Sarwar said.

Patients who download the app and register to use Phlo can see in real time whether the medicine is in stock, before placing the order. The app also allows them to pick a preferred delivery time, Mr Sarwar said.

At present, the service has been set up to work with Phlo pharmacies, but Mr Sarwar said that in the future, Phlo could look to offer its “technology to other pharmacies, [although] we haven’t made that decision yet”.

In April, Phlo entered a partnership with Babylon Health. As part of this agreement, Phlo is the only online pharmacy that Babylon patients can select for home deliveries. Other pharmacy choices are available for patients who wish to collect their medicines in person, Mr Sarwar added.

What do you make of the service offered by Phlo?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I cannot for the life of me think why someone would actually donate to crowdfund this. I could really do with a good holiday. What do you reckon the chances are of me crowdfunding that?

R A, Community pharmacist

I feel sorry for those get quick rich investors or 'speculators' all this start up will do is burn through cash and fold.

As others have pointed out the economics of the sector makes it a very difficult to run a pharmacy business. This is why all the multiples are desparate to get out. Sainsburys was very smart for selling its chain to Lloyds. 

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Ponzi scheme another fly by night who will disappear with the monies

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

How will they make it pay? There isn't enough funding in the contract to avoid dispensing at a loss even without the cost of delivery. Pharmacy2u lose £1 on every item they dispense, so good luck to this lot if they think they can make it pay. I would advise their investors to think very carefully. Emperors new clothes comes to mind. It looks shiny, new, exciting and different, but  they are working with the same contract funding as the rest of us and pharmacies are closing in droves without the costs of delivery they will have.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

The founders likely will exit with crowdfund/investment cash. The rest you mention is likely irrelevant to them as it will be somebody else's problem.

C A, Community pharmacist

I don't see how you can offer 24hr pharmacy services and be profitable? Who's going to RP those antisocial hours? 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Some pharmacist with no foresight seeking £12/hour I'd imagine.


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Further cheapens the 'profession' but |I suppose it is in keeping with recent 'advances'. Imagine the medical profession aligning itself with deliveroo, Nandos, McDonalds etc...

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

We are virtually there. All we need now is a virtual pharmacist.

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